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Buy a Home | 2 Posts
Sell a Home | 1 Posts
November
25

Customers Are Becoming More Digital: Here's What They Want

Your real estate customers still want to accomplish the same dependable goals that buyers and sellers have been aiming to achieve for generations. However, the way they go about accomplishing those goals is much different than it used to be, and your digital presence can go a long way toward accommodating their shifting needs. Today, it should be easier than ever for them to learn about homes, neighborhoods, communities, and your team from the comfort of their favorite devices.

Customers are becoming more digital than ever before, and you have an important role to play in ensuring that they can find everything they need online. Here's what they want and how to provide it for them.

The first and most important fundamental thing that you can provide for your digital customer base is a modern, informative, educational real estate website. You want your website to be a place where customers can easily search for homes, learn about neighborhoods, consume your content, and take the next steps to connect with an agent.

If you haven't updated your website in a while, now is the time to bring it up to a modern standard and provide a robust digital experience that your audience will love. Don't forget to make it mobile-friendly so that your customers can enjoy a smooth, seamless experience no matter which device they use to access your website.

Creative, Educational Real Estate Content

A regularly updated blog is one key feature that can help take your website to the next level, and the best blogs include content that caters to the diverse needs of your audience. Some people might be visiting for real estate advice, others for information on the communities, neighborhoods, events, and attractions in the places where they're shopping for homes. Your customers want digital resources that help them make informed decisions, and your blog is the perfect place to share your expertise.

The Ability to Explore Homes from Anywhere

Digital customers are more open than ever to exploring and falling in love with homes online as long as you provide them with the resources to do so. This might mean virtual open houses, virtual showings, or detailed, professional-quality property videos that you can easily create with our powerful Properties in Motion tool. The easier you make it for customers to fall in love with homes and neighborhoods online, the more likely they are to do just that.

Social Proof and Your Social Media Presence

Naturally, social media platforms are among the most popular places to connect with customers who have a digital mindset. In addition to your social media marketing, social proof is another key element in convincing digital customers that you're the right choice for their needs. Integrating reviews and testimonials into your online presence provides an easy way for anyone to discover more about what you have to offer. Both your social media pages and your real estate websites are ideal places to showcase the social proof that you've worked so hard to earn.

Responsiveness and Easy Ways to Connect with Your Team

One of the great things about the digital world is how easy it makes it to stay in touch and communicate through the channels that are most convenient to you. Today's customers don't just want to be able to reach you by making a phone call or showing up to the office in person for a meeting.

Whether through email, social media, SMS text messaging, or through more traditional communication channels, our DeltaNET real estate all-in-one solution makes it easy to stay in touch in all of the most convenient ways. Of course, having a robust CRM also makes it easier for you to keep track of what each customer wants so that you'll always be ready to respond in a personalized way.

Detailed Data on Homes and Markets

With the way that inventory, pricing, and demand have fluctuated so much in many markets in recent years, customers want the latest, most detailed data to help them shop for homes. You can provide all of the data that they need with our easy-to-use, AI-driven AVM Platform. Provide valuations from up to 5 independent sources with the detailed, relevant, timely data that your customers want to see. Of course, AVM reports also include multiple calls to action to encourage customers to take the next step.

You Don't Have to Face the Digital World Alone

If creating a distinctive, exceptional digital presence sounds like a lot of work, remember that you don't have to do it alone. From building the best modern real estate website to creating content, growing your social presence, and integrating the latest tools from DeltaNET, our team is here to help your team master the digital world for your customers.

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November
22

Tech Tuesday: Ad Wizard Quick New Listing Ads

This video complements the more in-depth Ad Wizard Tech Tuesday by demonstrating a new way to get into the Ad Wizard interface. We also demonstrate how you can use Ad Wizard to create any type of ad very quickly, without the extra explanation provided in the previous video.

 

Video Transcription

Harley:

Welcome to another edition of Tech Tuesday presented by Delta Media Group, where we just found out that the song Yesterday is believed to be the most covered song in history. Man, I got to tell you, Marvin Gaye had really come up with a hit on that one. Or wait, I mean Willie Nelson, I mean En Vogue, Ray Charles, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Pres, somebody wrote that song and everyone loves it. So today, we're going to take a look at Ad Wizard.

Harley:

Now I do realize that we just recently did a Tech Tuesday video where we covered Ad Wizard in detail, and that video is still going to be useful because it gets into really the nitty gritty of Ad Wizard in general. But for this video, I wanted to make a more pointed version of just how to go in and create ads. And also we've made a change that I wanted to make sure to point out. So that's why I wanted to make sure that we would do just a new video to keep you up to date on where we are and where Ad Wizard is more specifically for this video.

Harley:

So to find it, previously, it existed under marketing and Ad Wizard, and you can see there is still a link here. However, you can now also get to it by just clicking buy ads up here in the side navigation of the Delta Net. Now the side navigation is customizable on a per company basis to a certain degree. So if that link is not available to you or is not available for your company, you'll probably find it under marketing. And if not, you can always type Ad Wizard up here at the top into the quick action search bar and you'll find a navigation result for Ad Wizard there as well.

Harley:

So in our more recent video, or rather our other recent video, because this video's going to be more recent, right? So in our other recent video, I actually go through each of the items here and just cover in detail specifically what you could do with Ad Wizard. But generally, you're just going to look to create a new ad, and more often than not, you're going to be looking to create a new listing ad. So first off, we click on Ad Wizard, we find ourself on this page and this lays out all of our ads here. You can see I have one that has payment required. So if I wanted to finish this one out, I could click there and go in and make my payment on it. And we'll get into that a little bit later. But generally, what we'll do is just go in and click on new ad and I'm going to create a new listing ad. So I have a new listing and there is an ad type four new listing. Perfect. So we'll click on that.

Harley:

Now we need to find my listing. So I can either type in an MLS ID or I can type in an address. So we'll just go ahead and go with this guy here. There we go. And you can see when I select it, it populates my listing template with all of the data for that listing. Now from here, I can make some customizations. You'll see if I click on a few things, it'll highlight in red and that indicates that I can change those. I can also drag those around, I can rotate them, so I can customize this ad a bit. But I'll leave it alone for the time being.

Harley:

The next thing I can do here is I can select my radius. So by default, the target audience for this ad is going to be a 15 mile radius around the listing address, but I could switch that to zip codes if I like and actually define up to three zip codes specifically that I would like to target with this ad. Next, I can choose my ad template. So by default we have this just listed flag, we can switch to a just listed ribbon, which is going to look very similar. There we go. Except there's a ribbon up here at the top instead of a flag. And then lastly, we can choose a listing carousel, which just loads up all of the listing pictures. So this is your basic look or your preview of that ad. And this would allow users that see this ad or Facebook users that see this ad to click the arrows and actually cycle through the photos attached to that listing. But we'll switch it back to the flag.

Harley:

Now, for either of the flag or the ribbon version, I can also select from these pictures down here, which are just images from my listing to set as the background image. I like a good kitchen, let's go with a kitchen. That's nice. That's a nice kitchen. So from here, we have just a representation of the fields that I already know are editable here. So we found out that I can click on this and I can make changes to it. There we go. I can click on that and make changes to it.

Harley:

However, I don't have to interact with this portion of the ad at all. If I want everything to stay where it is, I don't want to make any major changes, I could just type here the headline and that will replace the headline here. So it doesn't even have to be the address if I don't want it to be. And then this is the description, which is what I have highlighted now. Again, I can change that in either place and it doesn't have to be beds, baths, and a price. It could be anything. Though beds, baths, and a price usually makes the most sense.

Harley:

So our recommendation is really to just go with the defaults. Select your listing, modify your target audience either by radius or zip code if you'd like, and the rest should be all set for you. The only time you'll need to make changes is if you do see an issue, for example, maybe the data from the MLS had the listing address spelled out in a different way. Maybe you want to abbreviate boulevard instead of spelling it out or vice versa. Those are the kind of changes you would typically look to make.

Harley:

We suggest that in part because the listings are designed to perform well as, or rather these ads templates are designed to perform well as ads. So usually your best bet to get the most performance out of them is to just let them populate with the listening data and run with it that way instead of making customizations. That also speaks to the last field here. I can modify this if I'd like. This is where the ad will link to. So anyone who sees the ad and clicks on it, this is the page that'll take them to. And this is the listing detail page for the listing I've chosen. Again, you do have the ability to change that, but we would suggest that you don't change it, because if I'm clicking on an ad for listening, the listing detail page is where I want to go. So once your ad is all set up here, we'll just click on next. This takes us through to the step where we can see the estimated performance of our ad and decide how long we want our ad to run.

Harley:

And you'll notice that this performance does change as I change the term of my ad. So right now it's going to run from the 21st to the 23rd, let's say I want to run it all the way to the 30th. You can see all these numbers update as well as the cost because the cost is a per day. So the longer I run the ad, the higher the cost will be. And at this point, the ad can only be posted to Facebook, so there's our Facebook check box. You want to leave that checked, by the way. If you uncheck that, this is just not going to know what to do. You're not going to be able to post your ad anywhere, so it's not going to do you much good.

Harley:

So once we have that all set, we'll click next. So our term is all defined. So you can see we're on the review step, so that it shows us what our ad will look like, gives us information about our ad. This is what it will link to, the target radius is how we define our audience, the start date, the end date. So if that all looks good, we're going to click finish. It's processing. There we go. And there you have it. So now on this final step, I can save this ad the way it is and go back to my homepage and that's where that payment required flag comes in. So if I do that, this will look just like the ad that you saw on my Ad Wizard homepage already where I had the ability to go back in and pay for it if I want to because I hadn't yet. So if I don't want to pay for it yet and I don't want to run it yet, I can just save and return home.

Harley:

Alternatively, if I have a payment profile set up already, I can just pay and it will use the payment method that I have on file through my payment profile and pay for the ad that way. And then my last option is, even if I don't have a stored payment information or a stored payment profile, I can still click here and I can make up just a one time payment. So it'll just pop up a modal where I can enter my credit card information. That information is not stored anywhere on our side. So if you just want to make a one time purchase, you don't have to worry about anything else being charged to that card or anything down the road because it's just a one-off charge. Once you do that, your ad will post based on the beginning and end date that are set up here, and it'll bring in all the leads for you, or rather it will generate activity that is probably going to be similar to what we've estimated for the ad performance. So there you go. When it comes to just going in, creating an ad quick, that's all there is to it.

Harley:

So we'll go ahead and save and return home on this one. And you can see, here it is on the list. And if I were to click payment required, it would take me back into this ad, allow me to run through it and verify everything. So it actually takes me through the whole setup process again if I'd like. And I can just click next if everything's good because it's stored all my information. Finish. It'll process it again just like before. And again, at this point, I could pay for it and that would get my ad running.

Harley:

So there you have it. That is how to go in and quickly set up an ad with Ad Wizard. And then just know that under new ad, if I were to create a new one, here we are. Under type, there are wide variety of different types. The new listing is generally the most common. You could also run them for an open house, just a general listing ad. So the listing's not new or anything, it's just an ad, just you want to run an ad for a listing. So you do have a wide variety of options here, and they're all set up in much the same way.

Harley:

So there's your quick rundown. We'll go ahead and cancel that. Cancel that ad. There we go. So there's your quick rundown of Ad Wizard. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, feel free to reach out to our support team and they can help you out with that. And as always, we'll see you again next week. Thanks a lot.

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November
22

The Most Common Misconceptions About Real Estate Tech

Real estate technology is becoming more advanced with every passing day. Capabilities that were once restricted to only the top agencies and brokerages are now available to smaller teams and independent players. As the landscape changes, though, there's plenty of misinformation out there.

Whenever a new industry develops, there are bound to be many different takes on it. And although real estate as we know it is hundreds of years old, real estate technology itself is very new. Established real estate professionals of today didn't grow up with many of the technologies becoming common now.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning, to name just two examples, have certainly stoked the public imagination. But in the midst of all that, there are real questions about their practical impact.

Real estate agents know how important it is to move with the times. No one is using overstuffed file cabinets or Post-It notes to organize their transactions as might have been the case 30 years ago. In recent years, real estate has had to adapt faster than almost any other industry.

While surveying the technology landscape, be aware of these misconceptions:

Misconception: "Real Estate Technology is Difficult to Learn and Utilize"

Without a doubt, there are some software programs out there that take thousands of hours to learn, even if you consider yourself "good with computers." But well-designed real estate technology is the opposite. It helps you learn the basics in a matter of days so you can produce value quickly.

At Delta Media Group, ease of use is always one of our core concerns. The new version of DeltaNET, the premier real estate all-in-one solution, makes it easier than ever for anyone to leverage the power of total visibility into your contacts, leads, and customers. It does this through the revolutionary "role-based system."

Under the role-based system, each DeltaNET user can have customized access to only the features they want or need to use. Each role can be tailored to the individual or to a job role. As work responsibilities grow, a user's role can be expanded to take advantage of more of the system.

All in all, this means anyone can get a running start without feeling overwhelmed.

Misconception: "Real Estate Technology Is Too Expensive for the Average Agent"

It wasn't that long ago when only large brokerages had access to the best real estate technology. Now, times have changed. A high performance real estate center of excellence like DeltaNET is far easier to afford at any size than the pre-packaged software of the past. Plus, no advanced hardware is needed.

Using the power of distributed computing, DeltaNET keeps your data accessible from anywhere. From the office, your car, or all over the world, you'll enjoy a safe, seamless, and stable connection that puts all the features you need at your fingertips while minimizing the cost of ownership.

If you have a work laptop and a smartphone, you've already made much of the investment necessary to leverage an AI-driven real estate toolkit. Compared to dozens of apps a full-featured suite like DeltaNET can replace, you may find you end up saving thousands of dollars in licensing fees.

Misconception: "Real Estate Technology Undercuts the Human Element of the Industry"

When all is said and done, real estate is about relationships. No matter whether you work with buyers or sellers, clients reach out to you based on your experience and local expertise. Oftentimes, this leads to a concern technology will homogenize the process and make it impersonal.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Technology doesn't replace the human element; it enhances it.

Thanks to marketing automation features in areas like social media marketing and email marketing, you can improve the quality of your communication with prospects, leads, customers, and your past customers. This helps you connect consistently and deliver insights that make a real difference.

For instance, social media automation can post helpful, informative updates that draw attention to your listings as they change. This isn't useless fluff: It's the kind of content that can support future customers who need to make an informed decision in a quickly evolving market.

Automation ensures that you will spend more time helping people and less time figuring out how to make it happen from a technical perspective. You can design an email campaign once and rest assured that it is working through the weeks and months to follow.

Technology also bridges the gap between the digital world and the physical one. With tools such as Open House Connector, you can capture useful details from everyone who registers for an event. If they're unable to attend later on, you'll know exactly how to follow up (perhaps to show them a recording of that event.)

Contact us to learn more about how real estate technology can exceed your expectations.

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April
11

If you're thinking about selling your home, now is the time to start making any necessary renovations and updates. While you might think you know exactly what needs to be done, it's smart to talk to a real estate agent before you get started. He or she will be able to tell you exactly which features are most popular with homebuyers so you can focus your time and money on the projects most likely to improve your bottom line. 

While buyers often have varying priorities when it comes to a home's interior, most may want the same features on the outside. Investing in the following five projects will help increase the chances of selling your home for top dollar. 

  1. Exterior Lighting
    Illuminating the outside of your house with landscape lighting and spotlights can transform it from a beautiful home to one that's absolutely breathtaking. Not only will it bring attention to the home's architectural features and perfectly manicured lawn, but it also adds an element of safety that's highly desirable. Add solar-powered lights, motion-sensors, and smart lights to make an even greater impact. 
  2. Outdoor Patio
    If you have a large backyard, potential buyers will love imagining themselves relaxing outdoors with a cool drink in their hand. An outdoor patio and seating area expand your home's livable space, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

    Adding a well-designed concrete patio is one of the best ways to make your home appear larger without undertaking a major renovation. If you already have a patio, put the effort into repairing it and making it look as new as possible. This small project can bring a huge return on investment. 
  3. Firepit
    Homes with outdoor fire pits allow owners to enjoy spending time in the backyard almost all year long. A nice-looking firepit will entice homebuyers, especially if it runs on natural gas. Build a beautiful structure, and you're likely to recoup almost all of your investment in the form of a higher sale price.

    Before jumping into this project, make sure you're following all of the local ordinances and necessary safety precautions. The last thing you want to do is add something to your home that will cause you problems down the line. 
  4. Landscaping/Garden
    Even if you don't make any major changes to the outside of your home, paying attention to your landscaping and garden will have a major impact on its curb appeal. Fertilize your lawn, touch up the mulch, and trim your bushes and overgrown trees.

    Maintain your perennial flower beds and add some annuals for instant color. If you have unique plants around your home, consider labeling them as they might help attract the right kind of buyer. Finish your project off by adding a water feature to make your yard feel like a relaxing oasis. 
  5. Outdoor Kitchen
    Outdoor living is hugely popular right now, making a great outdoor kitchen one of the most coveted features for home buyers. Depending on the scope of the project and the size and location of the home, sellers adding an outdoor kitchen can typically expect to break even or make as much as 20 percent back on their investment.

    When building an outdoor kitchen, you'll want to focus it around the grill and make sure you have plenty of counter space. Keep it simple and avoid adding extras like a pizza oven, as the new homebuyer might not want these features, causing them to be undervalued. 
April
11

Buying a house that's energy efficient is important to most of us these days. We're all so much more aware of the impact that we have on our environment, and how important it is to minimize our environmental footprint as much as we can. Energy-efficiency can also have a significant impact – for the better – on the costs of owning a home, reducing the amount of money that must be budgeted to cover those monthly utility bills. So what do you need to know about buying an energy-efficient home?

Key features to look for when buying a house that's energy efficient

If your goal is to buy an energy-efficient home, features you should look for include:

  • Good Insulation – An energy-efficient home will have well-insulated walls, floors, attic spaces and crawlspaces. Sellers should be able to provide an R-value for the home's insulation, and the Department of Energy offers guidelines on appropriate R-values according to the region.
  • Good windows – Drafty windows are huge energy wasters, causing heat loss in cold weather and heat gain in the summer. Look for newer, double-pane windows when you're home shopping, preferably windows that have earned the Energy Star seal.
  • Efficient appliances – Look for appliances that are Energy Star certified, which means that they are more energy efficient than average appliances. Appliances that can carry that seal include heating and air conditioning systems, washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, water heaters, among others.
  • A solid, energy efficient roof – You will, of course, want to be sure the roof of any home you're considering is in good shape. For maximum energy-efficiency, also look for one that uses Energy Star certified roofing materials, which reflect more of the sun's rays away to reduce heat gain – and therefore the amount of energy needed for summer cooling.
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures – Low flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads conserve water, of course, but they can also add to the energy-efficiency of your home. Reduced water flow when you turn on hot water faucets means less energy used by your water heater.

Energy-efficiency claims: Verify for your piece of mind

Energy-efficiency is a big selling point in today's market, so home sellers are generally eager to hit the right "green" talking points when they're listing their homes. While most people are quite honest in their descriptions, any buyer would be remiss if they did not do a little due diligence to verify the sellers energy-efficiency claims. Good ways of double-checking include:

  • Review utility bills for the home – Ask to see utility costs from the past year, then contact the local utility company to find out how those costs compare to the average bills of other, similarly-sized homes in the area. An energy-efficient home should have lower than average energy usage and costs.
  • Request an energy audit – A home energy audit, done by a licensed professional, evaluates energy usage in the home to give you a very accurate idea of just how efficient it is overall.
  • Ask about certifications – If the home you're interested in is a newly constructed one, ask the seller if it is LEED or Energy Star certified. Either of these certifications ensures that the home has been built for energy-efficiency.

Taking these steps to ensure that you're buying a house that's energy efficient may add a little time and expense to the home shopping process. However, if you are planning to live in that new home for a while, shopping carefully will pay off in the long run with a smaller environmental footprint and lower energy bills.

April
11

If you want to enjoy a beautiful yard, now is the perfect time to get started.  Don't have a natural green thumb? No worries! Creating beautiful flowerbeds is easier than you think when you plant these easy-to-care-for perennials. 

  1. Peony
    With large, gorgeous, blooms that are both colorful and strongly-scented, the Peony is one of the most popular perennial flowers. They're also extremely dependable. They often bloom for three or more years, and some continue to come back and bloom for many decades! 
  2. Black-Eyed Susan
    The Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) creates cheery-looking blooms that resemble daisies. The petals come in shades of yellow or orange and have dark centers. They're naturally resistant to insects and drought and most varieties will continue to bloom year after year. 
  3. Bearded Iris
    With eye-popping flowers that resemble a crown, the Bearded Iris is one of the most stunning perennial flowers you can add to your garden. They come in a wide variety of colors and often boom both in the spring and in the fall. Even when they're not blooming, the foliage creates a beautiful backdrop for your yard. 
  4. Oriental Lily
    The Oriental Lily can grow up to seven feet tall and creates a large, pendulous flower with an unmistakably pleasant scent. This species of flower is easy to care for, and since they spread, you'll enjoy more flowers year after year. 
  5. Salvia
    Salvia, also known as Perennial Sage, is coveted for its deep blue blooms. There are many varieties of Salvia, some of which do well in cold climates, and others that are great for hot and humid states like Florida. If you trim them back after they're done blooming, you're also likely to enjoy a second late-summer bloom. 
  6. Purple Coneflowers
    The Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) used to come in only one variety but is now available in many colors. These flowers grow up to three feet tall and will bloom in your garden from early summer until the fall. They also attract butterflies and are excellent for making indoor bouquets.  
  7. Penstemon 
    A tubular flower that comes in white and shades of pink, purple, blue, and red, the Penstemon thrives in sunny areas. Some have blue/green leaves, which can create a beautiful contrast within your flowerbed.  
  8. Coral Bells
    Often planted at the front of flowerbeds, Coral Bells (Heuchera) are popular for their colorful, crinkly-looking leaves. They also grow tiny perennial flowers on stalks that stick out above the leaves. These plants prefer sun or partial shade and bloom in late spring. 
  9. Moss Phlox
    A very versatile plant, Moss Phlox creates a dense mat of foliage that has a tendency to creep. It grows to a height of six inches to two feet and gives off highly-fragrant blooms in the springtime. It's great for planting in rock gardens, in the front of your perennial flowerbeds, or alongside sidewalks and other paved areas. 
  10. Whirling Butterflies
    How can you not love a plant with a name like Whirling Butterflies? This North American Wildflower blooms for several weeks at a time throughout the summer and fall. Its name comes from the small, delicate flowers that look like butterflies when the wind blows. They tolerate drought well once they're established and do best when planted in areas with full sun or partial shade. 

If you're thinking about selling your home this spring or summer, adding some flowerbeds for curb appeal is a great way to get started. 

April
4

Do you dream of living in one of the area's hottest neighborhoods, but find that all the homes are out of your price range? If you want to live in a trendy area, but also want to get the most out of your real-estate-dollar, the trick is to buy an inexpensive home in a neighborhood that's destined to be the next new hotspot.


Cities and urban areas across the country are going through a revitalization, also known as gentrification. Formerly run-down, lower-income regions are experiencing an influx of affluent residents, causing the neighborhoods to become desirable and home prices to rise. This trend is growing year-over-year as buyers have been placing more value on locations close to city centers and near their places of employment. 


Up-and-coming neighborhoods tend to start as neglected and run-down areas that might have high crime rates. Purchasing a home in these areas can be risky, so you'll want to do your homework first. 


How can you tell a neighborhood is getting ready to pop? Start with these six pro tips.

  1. Start with the Current Hotspots
    If you take a close look at some of the hottest local areas, you'll likely find neighborhoods just on the outskirts that need some love and attention. Purchasing a home in these neighborhoods will guarantee you're close to the amenities you want, and it's likely just a matter of time before your new neighborhood catches on.
  1. Keep an Eye Out for Construction
    An increase in construction is a good sign that a neighborhood is up-and-coming, but by the time you see the equipment, it's often too late. Instead, pay attention to the news to see what projects are in the works and attend city council meetings. If the city or large private investors are willing to put money into a neighborhood, it's a good sign that you might want to invest there too. 
  1. Listen to the Press
    If the news outlets begin reporting on revitalization in an area or referring to it as up-and-coming, home prices often start to climb. If you hear these reports and are ready to jump on a purchase right away, you might be able to get in before prices skyrocket.
  1. Follow the "Cool" People
    Historically, areas, where artists and musicians choose to live, have become some of the hottest neighborhoods in the country (think SoHo in NYC). This is because they typically search out less-desirable areas looking for cheap rent, then significantly improve it by bringing their creative energy.

    Also, look for areas where younger people are flocking. It's almost guaranteed that trendy bars, restaurants, and other cool amenities will follow. 
  1. Consider a Historic Area
    Areas designated as "historic" are prime for revitalization. Not only is the city or local government likely to invest in improvements, but many also offer significant tax breaks for buyers willing to spend in the area. If you're ready to put the time and effort into a restoration, you can turn a diamond-in-the-rough into a gorgeous dream home. 

  2. Talk to Your REALTOR®
    A good REALTOR® will have his or her finger on the pulse of the local area and know which neighborhoods are destined to be the next hotspots. Together, you can also examine real estate trends like days on the market (DOM). A decrease in DOM quarter-over-quarter is an excellent indicator of a neighborhood's popularity. 
April
4

Rainwater is pure gold that falls from the sky. Harvesting this clean and clear resource can trim your utility bills and minimize your environmental impact while reducing strain on regional water treatment facilities. When properly designed and installed, a rainwater collection system is an investment whose dividends benefit the entire community. The following are seven tips that will help you squeeze every last drop of value from your rainwater collection strategy.

  1. Determine Consumption & Availability
    Rainfall is variable, and the amount of rain that falls in your area may not be sufficient to meet your needs. You must calculate the water consumed by your lifestyle and landscaping needs. For example, water consumed by dishwashers, toilets, showers, sprinklers, etc. Next, you will want to determine whether regional rainfall is sufficient to meet these needs. As a general rule, you can expect annual rainfall to meet about 50% of your water needs. 
  2. Consider Your Roofing
    Shingled roofs can leach toxins into rainwater making it unsuitable for drinking. If you want to use your water for cooking, etc., consider replacing your roof with terra-cotta, slate, wood shingles, or concrete.
  3. Choose Barrels Carefully
    Choose barrels that are sufficient in size and construction to meet your collection needs and any freeze/thaw cycles inherent to your climate. Barrels should be opaque to minimize algae growth and comprised of materials (either wood, metal, or ideally, plastic) that won't leach toxins into the water. 
  4. Regularly Clean and Cover Your Barrels
    Position your barrels so that you can access and clean them every six months. Once every two years, your tank should be thoroughly de-sludged. This helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria and ensures your water remains fresh.  

    It is also advisable to conduct monthly tank inspections to ensure that filter screens, covers, and locks are functioning properly and preventing access to the tank by children, insects, pets, and other wildlife. If any damaged seals or locking mechanisms are discovered you will want to replace these without delay. Keeping your system closed off is essential for keeping the water clean and free of biological pathogens and insect infestations.  
  5. Shield and Clean Your Gutters
    Installing gutter shields and regularly cleaning the gutters on your home will help limit sludge buildup within your rainwater collection tanks. If you want to use your rainwater for human or animal consumption, you may also want to replace any soldered seams with rivets as soldered seams can leach lead into the water supply.
  6. Be Careful When Installing the Spigot
    Screw your spigot down so that it is hand tight. This helps prevent stripping of the threads and damage to the plastic, wood, or metal of the rainwater collection barrel. If you screw the spigot down too tight, the damage you create can cause leaks that negate your efforts. 
  7. Stay in the Grey
    Safely using rainwater for drinking requires significant investment and training. For this reason, most homeowners opt to use the rainwater they collect for showers, dishwashing, clothes washing, and irrigation. Using your water for these purposes will significantly reduce your water consumption without putting the health of your family at risk. 

Rainwater collection systems are worth their weight in gold. Using this free, 100% natural resource helps reduce your utility bills and minimizes your impact on the regional water supply. Collecting rainwater is an eco-friendly solution that is guaranteed to help beautify your landscape while adding a little extra padding to your monthly budget. A small investment of time and resources is all it takes for you to reap these rewards season after season.  

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